Creamy Coconut & Red Lentil Curry

GFGluten Free

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This creamy Coconut & Red Lentil Curry is ready in 30 minutes and you only need 8 ingredients to make it! A cozy, hearty, and flavorful dinner.

Creamy coconut milk, protein-packed red lentils, and aromatic herbs and spices combine to create this comforting, satisfying, but totally-good-for-you Creamy Coconut & Red Lentil Curry. This red lentil curry recipe is packed with cozy spices and wholesome flavor, plus it’s naturally vegan and gluten-free!

The best part? It’s made with only 8 humble (and pantry-friendly!) ingredients, tastes amazing, and can be on your table in 30 minutes.

ingredients for coconut red lentil curry on round wood cutting board

INGREDIENTS + INSPIRATION

This vegan red lentil curry is inspired by Indian daal (a.k.a. dal or dahl), which is a very broad term for delicious, heavily-spiced curries made with split peas or lentils. While most daals use a variety of spices and whole seeds like cumin, coriander, and turmeric, I chose to use a store-bought curry powder for ease. If you’d like to get a little more traditional though, check out this Instant Pot Daal Tadka

When I first started making Indian recipes I was a bit overwhelmed by all of the spices – over time I’ve built up my spice cabinet, but initially I relied on simple recipes like this to satisfy my curry cravings. I wholeheartedly encourage you to delve into Indian Cuisine, but maybe this curry can serve as your “gateway drug” into more complex recipes 😉

And don’t get me wrong – this curry is made from simple, pantry-staple ingredients, but it still packs a mighty flavor punch! Not only are these ingredients simple, but they are also very budget-friendly and can be found in most grocery stores. You can typically find dried red lentils near the canned beans, or with the other bagged and dried pulses.

white pan of coconut curry red lentils with wooden spoon

HOW TO MAKE VEGAN RED LENTIL CURRY

This whole dish cooks in less than 30 minutes – meaning you have the perfect amount of time to cook up a pot of fluffy white rice to serve alongside it. If you’re looking for an even easier option, try serving this curry with some naan or roti for a totally fuss-free side!

  1. Sauté the onion, garlic, ginger, and cilantro together in a pan until fragrant and golden. 
  2. Add in some curry powder (and optional cayenne), red lentils, coconut milk, and vegetable broth.
  3. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer until tender and creamy.

It really is that simple, friends! I like to save 2-3 tablespoons of coconut milk to drizzle over the curry just before I serve it. It looks fancy (but is secretly really easy), especially when paired with some freshly chopped cilantro. This is the perfect stick-to-your-ribs meal to serve on a chilly winter day, but it won’t weigh you down either.

large white pot of red lentil curry topped with coconut milk and cilantro

This Coconut & Red Lentil Curry is the perfect cool weather meal – it’s filling, cozy, and full of warming spices. It easy enough to serve for a quick weeknight dinner, but also impressive enough to serve to family and friends. It also reheats well, making it great for meal prep.

Is there anything this curry can’t do? So far I’m at a loss, but let me know if you find out…

pot of curry next to bowl of curry with rice and peas

COOKING TIPS + TROUBLESHOOTING:

  • Chop your ingredients finely. One of the great things about this curry is that it practically melts in your mouth…but that’s a hard feeling to achieve if your onion is in large chunks. Try your best to finely chop your vegetables, or use a food processor to pulse your veggies finely if you’re a little impatient!
  • Can I make this in an Instant Pot or pressure cooker? Yes! see the recipe notes below for my cooking recommendations
  • Is this curry spicy? The fresh ginger adds a bit of a kick, but I wouldn’t personally consider this curry to be too spicy. If you do love a little heat, you can add some chopped jalapeños or serrano peppers to the curry along with the ginger and garlic – again, see the recipe notes! 
  • Want to add extra veg? If you’re looking for a little extra green in your meal, try serving this Red Lentil Curry with some steamed or roasted vegetables, or you can also mix in some fresh spinach or mustard greens towards the end of cooking! I also like to toss a handful of frozen peas in with my rice for a pop of added color. Carrots, peppers, and potatoes would all work well here, if you wanted to toss them in with the lentils.
  • Can I use a different type of lentil? I strongly recommend using red lentils in this recipe, as they cook quickly and get nice and creamy as they break down. Yellow lentils or split peas will work as well if they are split – I wouldn’t use brown lentils, though.

Bowl of coconut red lentil curry with rice and cilantro

If you’re looking for more cozy and simple recipes, you’ll also love this Sweet Potato & Lentil Soup, this One Pot Vegan Mushroom Stroganoff and this “Cheesy” Broccoli Rice Casserole!

Finally, if you make this recipe and decide to share it on Facebook or Instagram, don’t forget to tag me @FromMyBowl + #FromMyBowl! I love seeing your delicious recreations 🙂

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Creamy Coconut & Red Lentil Curry

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4.9 from 37 reviews

This creamy Coconut & Red Lentil Curry is ready in 30 minutes and you only need 8 ingredients to make it! A cozy, hearty, and flavorful dinner.

  • Author: Caitlin Shoemaker
  • Prep Time: 7 Minutes
  • Cook Time: 23 Minutes
  • Total Time: 30 minutes
  • Yield: Serves 4 to 6 1x
  • Category: Main
  • Method: Stovetop
  • Cuisine: American
  • Diet: Vegan

Ingredients

Scale
  • 1 small yellow onion, diced 
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced 
  • 1 tablespoon ginger, finely minced 
  • ½ bunch cilantro, chopped; stems and leaves divided
  • 1 tablespoon salt-free curry powder 
  • ¼½ teaspoon cayenne pepper (optional)
  • 1½ cups (309g) dry red lentils
  • 1 13.5 ounce (398 ml) can full-fat coconut milk 
  • 2 cups (470 ml) low-sodium vegetable broth + 2 cups water 
  • Serving suggestions: cooked basmati or jasmine rice, naan or roti

Instructions

  1. Bring a large saucepan to medium heat and add a splash of vegetable broth or neutral cooking oil. Add the onion to the pan and sauté until translucent, 3 to 5 minutes
  2. Add the garlic, ginger, and chopped cilantro stems to the pan and sauté for an additional 1-2 minutes, then stir in the curry powder and cook for an additional minute. Rinse the lentils briefly, then add them to the saucepan with the coconut milk and vegetable broth and stir to combine. 
  3. Bring to a boil over high heat, then reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer for 18-20 minutes, or until the lentils are tender. Stir occasionally to ensure even cooking and flavor distribution.
  4. Serve warm with rice, or as desired; leftovers will keep in the fridge for up to 5 days or can be frozen for up to one month.

Notes

  • Instant Pot Instructions: select the “Sauté” setting on your pressure cooker and follow steps 1-2 as written. After you add the lentils and liquids, press “Cancel” to stop sauteeing and seal the Instant Pot with the lid. Cook on manual high-pressure for 4 minutes. Let the pressure naturally release for 10 minutes before covering the vent with a kitchen towel and manually releasing the remaining pressure.
  • Add-ins and Variations: this recipe is a great “base” for a lot of add-ins, like spicy peppers, carrots, potatoes, spinach, and mustard greens. I recommend adding the veggies along with the garlic and ginger in step 2, and stirring in any fresh greens just before the curry finishes simmering.

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10/2021: The blog post text has been updated, but the recipe remains the same.

About the Author

Hey there, I’m Caitlin! I make easy-to-follow, wholesome, and budget-friendly vegan recipes that are mostly gluten-free and refined sugar-free. I’m also an avid yogi, love the great outdoors, am chocolate-obsessed, and enjoy eating almond butter straight off of the spoon.

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Comments

  1. Hi! Do you simmer covered or uncovered? Normally I cook lentils covered but your comment about water cooking off made me think it should be uncovered 🙂 thanks for the feedback!

    1. Hi, Catherine! Simmer the lentils uncovered to allow the flavors to meld together and for the curry to reach the desired thickness.

  2. I want to congratulate you on making this the first time I’ve ever commented on an online recipe. I made this recipe today and it was INCREDIBLE!!! Thank you!!

    1. Wow! Thank you so much for leaving a comment, Ezra! So happy you loved the recipe.

  3. When do the “+ 2 cups of water” go in? Or should that be “…OR 2 cups of water” instead?

    1. Hi Diane, the “+ 2 cups of water” should be included along with the vegetable broth to ensure there is enough liquid for cooking the lentils.

  4. Just made this to take over to my vegan friend’s house, and it turned out delicious. Added cherry tomatoes, spinach and green peppers to extra veggies and a chopped fresh chili for a bit of heat.






  5. I made this for the first time as the recipe looked so easy and all ingredients I had in my store cupboard. Very quick and easy to make in the one pan. I followed the instructions exactly as I did not want to experiment having never made it before. Wow it sure is thick!!! I like things on the thicker side but even by my standard I had to add another 425ml of liquid. It did not alter the lovely creamy taste or appearance of the dish. I simmered for 40 minutes to make sure the red lentils were tender and the onion cooked. I served with cauliflower rice and mixed in some peas. All my family loved it and loads left to freeze for another occasion. This was an extra bonus to have enough for another meal. This recipe will definitely be added to my favourites in my recipe book. I think the recipe lends itself to experiment with and adding differing rice’s and vegetables.

  6. I made this for the family, they loved it. I did add collard greens and carrots for some extra vegetables.






  7. This has become a regular in my house! It’s so easy to make and has so much flavor! An absolute favorite dish for meal prepping for the week.

  8. This recipe is excellent … however, I never add the water recommended in the recipe. I always get the perfect consistency and the water seems like it would be too much. My question is, am I doing something wrong? I use all the other ingredients as specified. I use the Goya brand bag of red lentils. Is there may be a different type of red lentil that requires more liquid?

    1. Hi Deanna! I prefer my curry to be a little more runny, but if you like it on the thicker side you can reduce or remove the water. A lot of the water also cooks off while simmering.

  9. The recipe is delicious. However, it would be great if the gram amounts would also increase when the recipe is doubled or tripled. Am glad I double-checked before weighing out ingredients to make a larger batch. When doubled or tripled only the dry measures are increased in the recipe, but the weights of ingredients in grams stay the same.






    1. I love this recipe! I have made it twice. Turns out perfect every time. I enjoy making this recipe for meal prep. I enjoy a veggie packed curry for lunch all week since my kids don’t love it for dinner.

  10. Hi! Maybe I am missing something but did the directions specify to add the 2 cups of water + the 2 cups of broth? Or just the broth? Want to make sure I’m not adding too much by accident!